Toyota, in recognising China as one of its most important global markets, is targeting to triple its car production rate in the Republic by 2030 to make up for lost ground in the world’s biggest auto market, Automotive News reports. In a decade’s time, the Japanese giant wants to manufacture 3.5 million vehicles annually in China while boosting imports to the country to half a million vehicles, people close to the matter told the publication.

At the current rate, Toyota produces 1.16 million cars in China annually, and sold 1.3 million vehicles there last year, representing a 4.5% market share. Comparatively, Volkswagen and General Motors delivered more than four million vehicles each. So far in 2018, Chinese local brand Geely ranks third in terms of overall sales, overtaking all Japanese brands.

Toyota plans to get back on track and ramp up growth, starting by boosting production capacity to two million vehicles annually by early-2020, sources say. According to a statement, it will expand capacity in Tianjin by 120,000 units annually with local partner China FAW Group, with an investment totalling 1.76 billion yuan (RM1.06 billion). Of the 120,000 units, 110,000 will dedicated to plug-in hybrid vehicles, while the remainder will be EVs.

A new factory will also be established in Guangzhou to facilitate growth. Co-run with another local partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group, the plant will be capable of producing 200,000 vehicles a year, Nikkei reports. Several existing facilities will also contribute an additional 120,000 cars, bringing annual capacity up to 1.7 million units by 2021.

Introduction of the plug-in hybrid Corolla in China has been delayed to 2019

China, now a major proponent of new-energy vehicles (NEV; hybrids and electric vehicles), has imposed stringent regulations for NEVs to go into production from next year. Last September, China stated that automakers selling more than 30,000 vehicles annually in the country would be required to produce fleets with a corporate average fuel economy of 17.9 km/l by 2020, and 23.1 km/l by 2025.

The new mandate has forced automakers to be rather aggressive in their push for electrified vehicles in an attempt to meet the government’s require. By 2025, China aims to have a fifth of all car sales to comprise of NEVs, although sources say electric vehicles alone probably won’t be able to achieve Beijing’s ambitious environmental targets.

In a bid to boost sales, China has reduced car import duties to 15% from 25% last month. It is also starting to loosen grip on limitations pertaining to foreign ownership of joint ventures.

Meanwhile, Nissan, one of Toyota’s closest competitor in terms of sales in China, also announced plans to boost production capacity as it strives to be among the top three players in the world’s largest auto market.